I’m in Chicago this week and, unfortunately, suffering from a head cold. I rarely catch anything, but woke up yesterday morning unable to taste or smell; in fact, I’m pretty much numb from the nose up. This is why Wine Review Wednesday didn’t happen yesterday. In fact, I was hoping I’d be better today and able to do some tasting at the bar here, but it’s just gotten worse. So we’ll just skip this week and hope for a clearer path to tasting next week.
In the meantime, then, I thought I’d link up a story about the only aspect of wine that I can appreciate right now: Its color.
The other week, in his blog The Pour that he writes for The New York Times, Eric Asimov addressed an interesting topic that’s far too often ignored: The importance (or not) of a wine’s color.
“How important is it for a red wine to be a dark color?” he asked. “Stipulating that certain wines are naturally darker than others, and that evaluating a wine’s color can yield useful information when comparing a particular bottle to others of its genre, do most people believe that a darker red wine is better than a paler red wine?”
It’s an interesting questions, and one with serious implications both in terms of consumer preferences and the nature of the kinds of wines that get produced.
After all, many new wine drinkers--and a surprising number of seasoned ones--still associate a wine’s color with its quality. The relationship, they tend to believe, is fairly straightforward: The darker the wine, the higher the quality. But, as Asimov points out, “Many great Burgundies have been somewhat pale. Barolos, too, of impressive intensity and concentration, can be pretty pale. Top-level sangioveses and Riojas can also be light-colored. Frankly, as far as these wines are concerned, I’m more worried by unnaturally dark wines than I am pale wines. It indicates winemakers who are concerned enough with the public perception of the color of their wines to try to darken them, even as they know full well it makes no difference except in the marketing.”
As more consumers taste a broader range of wines, and as they begin to understand that aroma and flavor, more than anything else, define a wine, I hope that they’ll start to realize that darker wines are absolutely no better than pale ones.
The truth, as always, is in the aroma, flavor, and overall balance of the juice. That other stuff is merely aesthetic.